Dublin’s always had some unique individuals known to generations of those who lived or worked in the city, writes Paula Redmond


Dublin has produced its fair share of colourful residents down through the years whose personalities and eccentricities were so vivid that they remained long in the folk memory of the city.

Thomas Dudley, or ‘Bang Bang’ as he was known to most people, was a famous character around Dublin. A fan of John Wayne and the western films, he would point a large brass church key at bus and tram passengers and shout ‘bang! bang!’

Born in 1906 he was orphaned at a young age and raised by nuns in Cabra, Dublin. He later lived in the Liberties, but was known citywide for his staging of mock western style shootouts especially in the 1950s and 1960s.

It was not just children who joined in the game, many adults were seen to hide in doorways ‘shooting’ back at him with their fingers, and dropping down, apparently dead from Bang Bang’s bullets!

In later life he started to call himself Lord Dudley. His eyesight deteriorated over time and he spent the last years of his life in the care of the Rosminian Friars in Clonturk House, Drumcondra. He died in 1981 at the age of 74 and was buried in an unmarked plot in the order’s graveyard.

In 2017 his grave was finally marked with a plaque, unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Dublin. His key or ‘Colt .45’ as he called it, is now on display in Dublin City Library and Archive.

Patrick Joseph Marlow was called ‘Johnny Forty Coats’ by the people of Dublin. He was a character known around the city in the 1930s and 1940s. His nickname originated because of his propensity to wear numerous coats, one over another, to keep warm as he slept on the streets.

However, he was known to wear this thick covering no matter what the weather.

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